Dinosaur Dracula!

Make your own Toucan Sam!

Before today, it’d been a long time since my last box of Froot Loops.

Don’t get me wrong. Froot Loops is great, but for me, it was always a rebound. If one of the cereals I really liked did something to piss me off, I’d slide back to Froot Loops for a bit, and then, when I was ready, try something new.

It’s tasty stuff and it’s been around forever, but there’s only so hard I can fall for a smug bird with a nose obsession.  Noses are gross.

Still, I had a good reason to hop into Toucan Sam’s nest again.  Look closely at the latest Froot Loops box, and you’ll spot it.

“You can make your own Toucan Sam.”

That’s how you do it, Kellogg’s. Toucan Sam may be an icon, but he’s also eerily similar to Generic Grandpa. This guy needs the boost, and I don’t need to consult Merriam-Webster to know that making Toucan Sam out of cut up cardboard is the exact definition of “boost.” Read More…

Blue Cheese.

Here’s Dino Drac, written out in Nickelodeon Floam:

 And here’s Dino Drac, written out in Cheez-It Scrabble Junior crackers:

And here’s a new feature about random Nintendo memories, because if you only keep up with Dino Drac via RSS, you definitely did not see it.

I hope you’re having an amazing Monday.

Vintage Vending #2: Sticky Stuff!

Today we recall a true old faithful of the twenty-five cent prize arena: Sticky toys that stuck to things with their stickiness.

It’s Sticky Stuff! A collection of gooey doodads that will, quote, discolor paint! Yessss!

The photo looks bad, but rest assured, it’s just as blurry and crude in real life. That’s why I love it. It’s like Mrs. Peshill’s second grade art class doubled as a sweatshop for vending machine teaser card production.

From the low-rent logo to the odd positioning of the prizes, this was truly the work of the mad. If I remove the vision of imaginary Mrs. Peshill, all that’s left is some Igor-like creature, haphazardly assembling balls and bugs in his dead master’s laboratory.

“I ALSO AM WORK,” he’d say. To the mutant rats.

Prizes like these were available in the majority of vending machine areas. For us, they were the perfect backups. If everything else in K-Mart’s vending machines sucked, we could always shoot for a slimy grabber hand. It wasn’t #1 on our lists, but it sure beat stale Banana Runts. Hell, anything did.

This time, picking a favorite was easy. It’s that hot pink spiked mace! The common phrase, “it looks like friendly watermelons but can actually kill you,” has never been so apt.

Read More…

Vintage Vending #1: Random Toys!

Welcome to Dinosaur Dracula’s latest ongoing blog series: Vintage Vending!

As kids, there wasn’t one among us who didn’t get butterflies at the sight of those stupid red vending machines — the kinds with tiny toys and trinkets as prizes, hidden inside neat little egg-like capsules.

Those prizes never ruled our worlds, but they sure made the plainer parts of life a little more interesting. Every time I was forced to tag along on a trip to the supermarket or a department store, those vending machines saved the day. Even when Mom was in one of her “I shouldn’t spoil him” moods, it was never hard to talk her out of a few quarters.

And that was all it took! A few quarters! A few quarters, and I’d have a handful of stickers, slime and impossibly huge gumballs!

I’ve been doing these nostalgia rants for a hundred years, and it’s pretty surprising that I never dove into those old vending machines in a bigger way. Over the past year, I’ve amassed a huge collection of the prizes I grew up with, and man, they are a trip. Hundreds of little windows into the past, in the forms of cheap toys and reflective stickers.

In Vintage Vending, we’ll be revisiting many of these ancient prizes. By “ancient,” I guess I mean 10-30 years old. Some of these things will be foreign to you; others will magically transform you into a whining six-year-old, all over again.

Since I’ve been collecting the old vending machine teaser cards (the cardboard things placed in the glass, typically with the best prizes attached, to lure you in), most entries in this series will focus on one specific “type” of prize. This one? Not so much. It’s all over the place.

We’ll call this, I don’t know, Random Toys? Yeah, Random Toys. I’m starting with this one because it has something for everyone. (That’s a lie. Actually, I’m starting with it because there are at least five things for me.)

Spreads like this were (and continue to be) a vending machine classic. It was such a gamble, because no matter what piqued your interest on the teaser card, there was a pretty big chance that you’d end up with crap.

Worse yet, we sure were good at convincing ourselves that these teaser cards were indicative of the machine’s prizes in total. Never once did we consider the truth: Aside from the featured prizes, there was an unseen sea of trash hiding in the machine. Prizes so bad, they’d never be taped to the display.

And hell, even within the featured prizes, there are plenty of losers. I would not have been happy with one of those ominously numerous roller skate keychains, but I’m sure someone might’ve liked them. Then there’s that tiny red boat on the left – that was junk no matter who you were.

But Vintage Vending is supposed to be a celebration!  Let’s focus on the good stuff. Read More…